New Asian Cinema

Cover of New Asian Cinema Back of New Asian Cinema

Title: New Asian Cinema
Released: 1998
Label: Yoyo

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Liner notes


Table of contents

  1. Cao Dai Blowout
  2. Korean Bird Paintings
  3. Narakaloka
  4. Golden Jackal Song
  5. Treetop Song

Cao Dai Blowout 1

He came knocking down the streetlights
Tearing up the new grass on the lawn
He was frightening all the livestock
I could feel him coming on

I lit the citronella, 2 it was all that I had 3
And I began to feel real bad
When the ghost of your father comes to town
What the hell else can you do
I flung open all the windows, put the water on for tea
And let him pass right on through

And he took to knocking over furniture
Getting into the reception on the wireless
He tore up all the dry goods in the pantry
He was strong and he was tireless

And when the priest came to call, I sent him on his way
I got a tremor in my hand and my feet are made of clay
When the ghost of your father starts pushing you around
How are you gonna make him stop
I took down all the crosses
I let him set up shop

Korean Bird Paintings


Yesterday I put in a good five hours
Talking to the statues
Chased your memory all around the room
Didn't manage to catch you
But I cleaned out the savings account
Blew everything I had on flowers
And I covered up the furniture in carnations
Rolled around for hours
And there are those of you who've got the wrong idea right now
But man, you should have seen me when I got through
Indistinguishable from a fourth century Briton 4
Waiting on the couch for you
And I put all the extras on the credit card
Mobiles of the galaxy and Mylar 5 balloons
Everything we'd saved up in one room at the same time
Our two stars, crescent moons
Thank you notes, get well cards
Condolences, congratulations
Bright colors, cues and signals
Reminders and reverberations

Narakaloka 6 7

The cabbages and I will grow
One by one and row on row
Will fatten in the spring sun
And breathe in the evening air

You will hear them breathing
If you walk by at night
You may not hear them after all
And that's all right

I've set the table for two
I've cleaned the windows for you
I got cinnamon from Jakarta 8
Making French toast
Doctor says that I've got
30 days left at most

Cabbages that I will grow
The love songs on the radio
Will deepen in the springtime
They'll be brighter than the stars

Golden Jackal Song 9

I swung through town
Shining like a new quarter
Felt something sharp rise up within me
When I crossed the border

Stopped at the gas station payphone
I let my fingers fly
The wicked impulses were dying
But I couldn't let them die

And we were over at your place, singing about the old times
No one had anything to prove
I ate so much carrion
That I could not move
I was bloated

When I saw your kitchen
Glistening like the old country
All your cups and glasses
Lined up in front of me

And I stopped at the faucet for a minute
Waved 'til you came in to see what was wrong
Your fingers brushed my ribs playfully
I played along

And you had your tongue in my mouth
Your eyes glistening in the light
I ate rich, raw carrion
Until I couldn't think right
I was a ghoul 10

Treetop Song

All along the interstate
The palm trees were calling out to me
And the line of them stretched down the highway forever
As far as I could see

And I waited 'til the sun was coming up
Light morning traffic and a cool spring breeze
And I heard the old voices calling down to me
From the tops of the trees

And when I got up to the top, my head got light
And for a minute everything in the world was all right
And I saw the next tree just ten feet away
Give or take a few feet, I guess

And then I pushed off into the air with all of my might
And headed out into the center of the morning light
And I knew that I was gonna make it
The new tree hardly shook to acknowledge my arrival
And I knew that I would be all right


Thank you, Caliclimber! Your Flickr page continues to amaze me, and I greatly appreciate you letting me use the cover art here.

  1. New Asian Cinema, Nall, retrieved May 4, 2014.


  1. Cao Đài is the name for God in Caodaism, a Vietnamese monotheistic religion formed in 1926 and active in resisting French colonialism. Caodaists believe in a karmic cycle of life and death, which they strive to escape through their actions and beliefs. 

  2. Citronella is an aromatic oil derived from lemongrass used as a perfume and an insect repellent. 

  3. Nall lists this as, "I let the citronella dissolve in my hand". It's challenging to hear on the recording, but the wording given here seems accurate based on live recordings. 

  4. The Britons were a Celtic people inhabiting southern Great Britain from the Iron Age through Roman times, eventually being pushed out or blending with the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century. 

  5. Mylar, a brand name for biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate, is a reflective plastic sheet material presumably used here to reflect the sun. 

  6. "According to Sukadeva Gosvami there are 28 different hells, each one worse than the one before. At the very bottom of these, is the hell reserved for those who, having a little food, neglect to share it with a guest and instead eat it for themselves. This place is called Narakaloka, and in it is a lake some 800,000 miles wide filled with worms feeding on one another. And your destiny — there are as many worms in the lake as there are miles across it — and your destiny is to eat and be eaten until all the worms have had their way with you." — Empty Bottle, Chicago, December 6, 1997. See also CD Exchange, Bloomington, January 30, 1999; Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, January 27, 1999.

    "Although how that ties into this song is a great mystery that only I know the answer to." — Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, January 27, 1999

    Sukadeva Gosvami, known also as Shuka, is the narrator of the Hindu text Bhagavata Purana, a devotional text to the Krishna incarnation of Vishnu. 

  7. Naraka seems to generally refer to the entirety of the 28 Hindu hells (with the number and name of Naraka varying from tradition to tradition). What John describes above is more commonly called Krimibhojana:

    A person is considered no better than a crow if after receiving some food, he does not divide it among guests, old men and children, but simply eats it himself, or if he eats it without performing the five kinds of sacrifice. After death he is put into the most abominable hell, known as Krimibhojana. In that hell is a lake 100,000 yojanas [800,000 miles] wide and filled with worms. He becomes a worm in that lake and feeds on the other worms there, who also feed on him. Unless he atones for his actions before his death, such a sinful man remains in the hellish lake of Krmibhojana for as many years as there are yojanas in the width of the lake.

    Vyasa. Bhagavata Purana (1987). Translated by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. India: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ISBN 0-89213-262-0 

  8. Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and its largest city, located on the island of Java. 28 million people live in its metropolitan area, with nearly 10 million in the city limits itself. 

  9. The golden jackal, Canis aureus, is a species of wild canine native to North Africa and much of Eurasia. The species fills a mythological role as a trickster deity in many religions in areas it inhabits. 

  10. Nall lists this lyric as "I was full", but I'm not sure I hear it that way. Unfortunately, there are no live recordings of this song that I know of to which we can compare the lyrics, so I'm uncertain of this final line.